The John Seymour School for Self Sufficiency


Please go to the Course Booking page for more information and to send a deposit.      We already have a number of bookings so don't delay if you want to make sure of your place.  Drop us an email if you have any questions.    Course syllabus remains very comprehensive as always; the cottage by the beach is charming and students can look forward to wonderful home cooked meals in front of the old log fire.

The April course was a great success with half decent weather, great basket making and lots of useful talk and debate.       We cleared off the rest of the sprouting broccoli (enjoyed eating plenty too!) and sowed lettuce, carrot, beetroot, spinach and parsnip.    We pricked out seedlings in the greenhouse, did a great job of scything the orchard and enjoyed a great folk music session in the pub.     As always the evenings were spent chatting and enjoying fine food in front of a lovely open fire.

The weather has not been kind to us since April.     Very dry, cold and breezy.     The local pigeons and pheasants have had a field day taking dust baths on our seedbeds and the water butt in the greenhouse has had to be filled from the mains at least once (a very unusual necessity).      Luckily we've had rain over the last few days and things are beginning to move - we've even got peas growing 6 inches high (a great feat after birds and voles destroyed them all several times last year).      The runner beans are already showing and - so far - slugs have kept their distance.      Sweet corn is the one plant enjoying the hot dry weather.


In 2016 we all had a most enjoyable week in spring - long evenings putting the world to rights in front of a warm log fire.      As always, the basket making was a great success - perhaps a little more challenging than the students expected but here they are.

April baskets

Northumbrian A Frame Scythes - for Sale     My campaign to re-introduce the traditional scythe for controlling grassland and weeds has resulted in sale of 5 new scythes this year.    I make these scythes myself, importing blades from Austria.   Slowly more people are realising the advantages (and pleasures) of scything.  I now have 4 lovely new scythes ready for the 2017 season. The two handled scottish or northumbrian scythe is much the best tool for controlling tough weeds like thistle, nettle and (particularly) brambles/tree seedlings.    My new scythes sell for 100 - they are a joy to use and last a lifetime!     Drop me an email if you are interested.

Northumbrian "A" frame scythes for sale
New Scythe 
The Renovation Story

  In 2014 our courses moved to the beautiful coast of north Northumberland where we have begun the renovation of a fine old Victorian kitchen garden.    The renovation work provides an unusual opportunity for our students to be involved in the development of the garden infrastructure and planning.     It's many years since the garden was in full use but the site is lucky enough to have a massively high brick wall along its east and north sides.    The wall was built from the dutch bricks which were used as ballast by coal ships from Newcastle in the nineteenth century.  

The old farmhouse has been lovingly restored and now includes a pond and wildflower meadow.

The wildflower meadow

The kitchen garden lies on the north side (to the left of the picture).     The soil is a heavy well drained loam with few nasty weeds - no creeping buttercup or couch, just a few nettles.    The biggest challenge was digging out a few very old tree stumps whose roots have gone under the walls.   You can see the massive (recently re-pointed) south facing wall which will give the garden such a beneficial micro-climate.  

The School

Will Sutherland has run self-sufficiency courses for more than 20 years, teaching the methods and philosophy developed by John Seymour.     Will worked for over 10 years with John Seymour in Ireland and, with John, created the New Complete Book of Self Sufficiency published by Dorling Kindersley.   In 2010 we took our courses to the wine growing region near Bordeaux where the warm weather, swimming pool and excellent local wine made a nice change from the cooler climes of Ireland.    Now we are moving back to cooler climes to take up the challenge of re-creating a classic old kitchen garden.  

STLCourse LunchStLegerBaskets

What our students said:

“Thank you so much: we really enjoyed the course and found it VERY interesting and helpful. And what a beautiful place in which to do it”

“Thank you for a wonderful holiday. The food has been amazing and we have really enjoyed the Class. You have a beautiful place here.”

Such great people. Such strong spirits. Great to know you guys!'